Popular Patidar leader Hardik Patel on Sunday made it clear to his supporters who they must vote for on 9 and 14 December when the state goes to crucial assembly polls. Addressing a huge crowd in Surat, Hardik told his community members to not vote for the BJP, NCP, AAP or any other independent candidates.
Reminding them how the ruling saffron party had taken the community’s support for granted in the past, Hardik said that it was time to teach the BJP a lesson.
“The BJP feels there is no other option for Patidars, as they will definitely vote for them. As for the Congress, it is afraid even after huge meetings by Patidars here in 2007 (of the rebel Maha Gujarat Janata Parishad launched by Gordhan Zadaphia), and in 2012 (by Keshubhai Patel’s Gujarat Parivartan Party) there was no translation into votes. So the time has come to show our loyalty and our power. We should not caste vote either to the NCP or AAP or any Independent candidate, and certainly not BJP, but we should vote such a party which will form a government,” Hardik was quoted by Indian Express.
Hardik’s appeal to Patel community came at the end of his massive roadshow in Surat’s Yogi Chowk, where, according to one estimate, nearly one lakh people had turned up to listen to the 24-year-old leader. This was in sharp contrast to the reports of thousands of empty chairs in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rallies.
He told the gathering to take an oath that they will not forgive those who had killed 14 Patidar youths, “will not be lured by the BJP leaders” and will “reach the polling station in the morning and will not vote for the BJP.” This was in reference to 2015 police crackdown on Patidar agitation that resulted in the deaths of 14 Patel youths in Gujarat. While taking the oath, Hardik and youths present in the audience turned their mobile phone lights on.
They also took pledge to inform their family members and friends to go to the polling station on time to exercise their voting rights, but not to vote for the BJP.
Fearing that they may once again change their decision on the day of the election, Hardik said, “If we change our decision taken once, we should start believing that we do not have the DNA of Patels. Why should we forget the scenes when they killed 14 youths, the police beaten our ladies. These BJP people now should fear of our strength.”